Ben Ainslie, the British champion who swept to victory off the coast of Weymouth to become the world's most successful competitive sailor, has indicated that he will retire from Olympic racing.
The 35-year-old said it was unlikely that he would compete in Rio in four years time as he celebrated winning his fourth consecutive gold medal to add to the silver he won as a teenager in Atlanta.
For the last three Games the Cornish born sailor has dominated the Finn class, a solo sailing boat that requires a huge amount of physical energy to command. It now looks likely that he will leave Olympic sailing on a high note having become the most decorated sailor in the Games' history.
“You never say never do you, but it's impossible to experience anything better than this so there would need to be a very good reason,” he said when asked by reporters if he could see himself competing at the next Olympics in Rio.
“It's been really hard the last 18 months,” he added. “I had issues over the winter on my back. Slowly thing start falling apart physically as you get older. And it is really tough, especially down wind, you are pushing yourself to the limit. Your body doesn't always like it.”
Sailing in perfect, sunny conditions on home waters off the south coast of England, Ainslie added to his three golds and a silver in successive Games by beating Danish sailor Jonas Hogh-Christensen into the silver medal position on points.
An aggressive and competitive sailor Ainslie was famously disqualified last year in Perth after he boarded a boat carrying a film crew. He had finished second in the race but felt the TV cameras had ruined his race with the wake of their boat. He was so furious he dove into the water, swam onto their boat and remonstrated with them before jumping back in the sea.
Having won four Olympic golds, Ainslie now looks set to concentrate on his next big goal, winning the America's Cup. In just two weeks time he flies out to San Francisco as part of his eponymous team Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR).
Speaking after his victory in Weymouth today he laughed off suggestions that he should be in line for a knighthood, saying Team GB coach David Howlett was should take the credit for Britain's sailing success.
“He's been involved with at least four gold medals as a coach and I think out of all of us he's the one who really deserves the recognition,” he said.
Asked what he looked forward to now that he had won the Olympics and could relax he replied: “It sounds bizarre but not stuffing my face with food 24/7. Just having a normal day.”Reuse content